“I now pronounce you man and wife, and oh, by the way, on December 5, five years from now you will automatically be divorced. It doesn’t matter how you feel about each other, come the 5th and your marriage will end.” That pronouncement expresses the feelings we have about sealings performed outside Mormon or LDS Temples. Most marriages are performed for time during our mortal stay on earth, and when one partner dies, the marriage is dissolved. Of course, we do not know ahead of time when the death will occur. In contrast, we believe sealings performed in the Temples, by the power of the Priesthood of God, are performed for both time in mortality and eternity in Heaven. Implicit in this belief is the condition that both partners remain true to the commandments of God; the ceremony itself is only a promise of eternal marriage.
Bind in Heaven
When Jesus commissioned his Apostles, he told them their actions would be in effect in the next life.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18)
The Greek word translated ‘bind’ in those two verses is deo and means to tie or to be in bonds. Likewise, the Greek word translated ‘loose’ is luo and means to loosen, breakup, destroy, or dissolve. Jesus told the Apostles that whatsoever they tied together in the spiritual sense on earth would be tied together in Heaven and whatsoever they dissolved on earth would be dissolved in Heaven. An example of this authority to ‘bind’ is found in the verse immediately following the Savior’s declaration to them that they could bind in Heaven. Jesus told them that if two of them agreed on how the prayers of the faithful should be answered by God, then the prayers would be answered that way.
Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)
That is, the Apostles would act for God in giving answers to prayers. This scripture implies that the authority given the Apostles to bind or make valid in Heaven applied in general to all the work of the Apostles. Thus, if they performed marriages, those marriages would be accepted by God in heaven and would be eternal marriages.
Adam and Eve Were Married
Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve were in a condition in which there was no death. We read in Genesis that Eve was Adam’s wife, indicating they were married by God while in the Garden of Eden.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)
That marriage was eternal because it existed prior to the Fall.
Through latter-day revelation, the Lord revealed that all covenants made with God that are not sealed by the Holy Ghost are null and void upon death.
And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise….are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D & C 132:7)
That is, from the perspective of God, this earth life is but a small moment, and it is his intent that his relationship with us and our relationship with each other be eternal ones, lasting forever. The Lord went on to explain that marriages should be eternal, and that marriages not performed by the Priesthood are void when death occurs.
Wherefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. (D & C 132:15)
The Lord has revealed that marriages for eternity are to be performed in Temples, both for living couples and by proxy for those who died without this opportunity.
Some who oppose the LDS Church say there are no eternal marriages, and they refer to Matthew 22:30 in which the Savior said in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Let us look more closely at that verse. The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection and were trying to trick the Savior, asked Jesus a question about the resurrection. According to the Law of Moses, if a man died his brother would marry his widow to raise up children to the first brother. The Sadducees posed the theoretical question of brother after brother dying, and they asked, Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven [brothers]? for they all had her. In response, Jesus said the following.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)
Notice that Jesus did not say that marriages would not exist in the resurrection. What he did say was that “they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”, that is, marriage ceremonies are not performed by resurrected individuals. He was talking about the act of marriage not the condition of marriage.